Is it wrong to refer to Jack Daniel's as a bourbon?

I recall a silly argument I had with someone one time in a bar. He wanted a bourbon and coke and got a Jack and coke and I thought this was wrong. By reading the Jack Daniel’s wiki it seems although it can be classed as a bourbon, it isn’t by its manufacturer. I had ignorantly thought that because it was manufactured in Tennessee and not Kentucky it couldn’t be a bourbon.

Got it in one.

Bourbon can be made anywhere. If you want to call it Kentucky Bourbon it has to be from there, but there are plenty of bourbons made elsewhere. The differentiator between bourbon and Tennesee whiskey is that JD has a charcoal filtration step before aging.

See here:

Yes, yes it is. If you filter it, it isn’t bourbon.

From what I understand, a Bourbon whiskey is a whiskey from at least 51% corn, distilled to no more than 160 proof, aged in new, charred oak barrels, and bottled at no less than 80 proof (40% alcohol).

I’m pretty sure that Jack Daniels meets those criteria, so it could be called Bourbon, and is probably legally regulated as such. Wikipedia even says that the definition of Tennessee Whiskey is a Bourbon whiskey distilled in Kentucky. The filtration is legally optional, although since Dickel and Jack Daniels both do it, I’d say it’s part of the character of a Tennessee whiskey.

IIRC, the “new” part of the charred barrels is significant. The company that owns JD also owns Woodford Reserve, and I believe the barrels from Woodford Reserve are reused for barreling Jack Daniels. (This is from my fuzzy memory of touring the WR distillery several years ago).


Er… “distilled in Tennessee.” I was reading two different articles at the same time and got my states mixed up.
Oh, and the “new” part is absolutely essential to make Tennessee whiskey, since it’s a sort of bourbon. By law, they have to use new charred oak barrels for bourbon.

There are kinds that don’t require it, but they’re usually the cheaper sorts. Most of the used barrels are shipped to Scotland or the Caribbean for Scotch and Rum production.